Wednesday, August 28, 2013

August 26, 2013

The floods are a lot of fun. I walked through really high water this week. What I thought was a river was actually Leguna Bay, haha. I don't know this area very well yet, haha. 

We have some pretty amazing investigators and we just found a few more so that's great. I really wish there was more time in a day to be able to reach everyone. The investigators are very sincere and that's all a missionary could really ask for is desire. It's interesting how almost all concerns that come up when teaching someone, are almost all resolved through praying to know if this is true, if the Book of Mormon is true.  If this is the truth, then  when they get the answer almost all of it is resolved. If they have a concern about one principle or another you can ask, did you get a confirmation that this is true? If they say yes then it's solved. There is not much to worry about if you get a confirmation from the Holy Ghost that something is right and you are doing it then you really have nothing to worry about. "There is absolutely nothing in this world that will provide more comfort and happiness than a testimony of the truth." - President Thomas S. Monson. 
I am so grateful for my companion Elder Fisher he is so much fun and is teaching me so many things. He is so absolutely calm all the time. We are still just getting the area down but its so cool meeting so many different people in one day. My new mission president is awesome. We just had stake conference. I met a 6 foot 3  African American man there who said he prayed and God told him to go to the stake center and meet the men wearing white.  So that was a testimony building experience; totally random but cool.

By the way I am learning a Filipino dance from an elder in the same house as me. He is from Cebu and they have a tribal dance called the "Dance of Death". It's a dance that is also a martial art so that's cool, we just do that as our morning exercise. Also I am learning how to use nun-chucks so that's cool too.
Well I am excited for next week I hear there will be 15 more typhoons coming so that will be interesting.  We will probably be able to do a lot of service. 

I am memorizing a scripture every morning to help me keep my baptismal covenant to remember Him always and it helps and makes my day so much better and amazing:) I highly recommend it because then I get to have the spirit with me always and I feel more in control and just see so many things and mercies throughout the day and I am much more in control of my mind which then means I am in more control of myself:)
 Elder Blackham 

Monday, August 26, 2013

August 19, 2013

So far things are going totally awesome.  I am excited to serve the Lord in this area. The new house I am in is huge, well small to American standards, but enormous to Philippine standard. We found two giant spiders today and made them fight. Each of them were as big as my hand so it was pretty cool. The brown one won in case you were wondering. I really don't like that I have been out for a year already its going by way too fast. 

My new area is right by a big river which is cool, but its pretty city like. To be totally honest  really don't like big cities, I prefer the smaller cities.  But, I Iove the Lord so that means I love the city too haha. I Love the people here too they are so much fun to be with and I love to make them smile. The ward is absolutely amazing and I am blown away at their understanding of missionary work.  

Elder Fisher, my new companion, is totally amazing. He is going home this transfer and he is not trunky at all and I am learning so much from him. He is an amazing man of the Lord and is absolutely hilarious. 

We are white washing our area.  That  means that the last two missionaries are both leaving and we are opening it up again so that is intense. I still haven't unpacked from getting to the house. It did rain a lot here and flood but not too bad just like a foot deep by the river.  

As far as my studying about Jesus Christ specifically I am finding his attributes and what He does in certain situations, so I am going to look up in the topical guide all the scriptures that have Jesus Christ. For example, "Jesus Christ, exemplar"  etc. for that 15 min. of every day. This week in my study I learned more about what it means to minister unto others and the meaning of mercy. When Christ ministered he would stop and give all His attention to the person whom He was ministering to, also it seemed like such a personal thing and was always directed to what would the person need most, in a loving and merciful way.

Every blessing we ever receive is a form of mercy because we would not receive it if it were not for the atonement of Jesus Christ and mercy of God. We are definitely unprofitable servants but yet He still seeth fit to bless us. Kindness is a form of mercy and forgiveness, gentleness. I still cannot comprehend how meciful the Lord is. It is too great for my mind to wrap around it. But I can give thanks with all my heart and still strive to learn and eventually wrap my mind around it. 

Love, Elder Blackham

Sunday, August 18, 2013

August 12, 2013

This week was amazing because of the change of heart that has been taking place in the family that we reactivated and also the referral that they have given us. Her name is Jazmine and she loves the gospel and knows that this is her 2nd chance in life.  (That is what she said in her own words.)  She understands and feels the miracle of repentance and really wants to be baptized because she understands that being clean and having the companionship of the Holy Ghost is the joy and peace and happiness in her life and will connect with great power and clarity her with Her Heavenly Father, so that she can be led and guided throughout her whole life until she will return to live with Him again. 

The family's house is way up on the mountain through bamboo and lots of mud and banana trees and mango trees. I love that family a lot and I can't tell you how many times we have hiked this mountain to teach them. They have been less active for two years or more but in the teaching record it shows they have been taught for the last two years.  We were about to drop them because we were sick of hiking the mountain to have nothing happen haha. We prayed what to do and decided to give them our all and if that didn't work we were going to drop them. We decided that instead of hiking up their twice a week like we had been doing; that we would hike up there four times a week.  Well now they are active and have brought many others into the church.   Now, I love hiking that really sweaty hike to their bamboo house.  

This is the best work ever, you cant even choose a better job, because this job as a missionary changes you just as much as you try to help others change. I can think of no greater payment than treasures in heaven and a change of my own heart as I consistently strive to serve the Lord:) 

Things are going great. I am getting transferred to the Taytay Zone  and I will be white washing the area. The zone has 25 missionaries in it so that is scary.  But there is no sense in being scared because I am going to do it whether I am scared or not haha. 

This week I found and felt the change in  my testimony as I bore it. I felt the peace and power enter my heart. I focused on saying I know by the Holy Ghost that it is true every time I testify so that the people I teach will understand that they cannot know without the Holy Ghost and more what it means. Well I can say that I have been a big benefactor of saying this and have felt an increase level of the Holy Ghost and joy as I do so:)

I will really miss my trainee Elder Gako, He has really become my friend and has taught me a lot on how to be a friend and all the little things that help someone become friends.

 As I was studying and praying for what I should study for. I felt prompted to get to know Christ better. I realized that if we take His name upon us and make His example the basis of all our decisions, how are we going to be able to do what he does and become like Him if we don't know what He would do in some situations. So I am devoting 15 minutes of my personal study every day on who is Jesus Christ. Then the rest of the 45 is for my investigators. 

So yea life is like the best, today I jumped off a water tank and fell and it hurt but it was fun and I laughed. Its been raining so so so much here. But I love it:)
Elder Blackham

Thursday, August 8, 2013

August 5, 2013

This week was awesome!!!! You said you want to know interesting things that happen. Well, in one of our lessons a kid walked right in front of me and Elder Gako and started peeing. That was interesting. Also, I farmed and planted vegetables for one of our investigators this week. Also I got a huge knife thing called an itak and chopped down really tall grass, and boldly taught lessons by the spirit. The thing I like about the rain is that when it rains it floods and it gets colder and I just enjoy the sounds and the cool air and how all these weird animals and bugs come out when it rains.  
So as far as this week goes that new idea for finding has helped people search more and get more serious in the lessons because we are teaching based of the individual's desire to learn. The increase in attention and seriousness is amazing when they find a question that they want to know. Imagine how much more we would learn ourselves if we asked more questions. For example the difference between reading and studying is when you read you wait for knowledge to fall in your lap; but when you study you seek and ask and reach and actively gain knowledge and understanding. If you ever read the scriptures and  feel like your not going anywhere, then  ask a question like what does it mean to have full purpose of heart and then immediately you mind will be enlightened as you search and you will gain so much learning, and you won't want to stop. I keep learning this lesson over and over again. 

Also this week when we did service it really opened the door to teach the mother of an investigator we have.  The investigator wants to be baptized but the mother doesn't want that for her daughter. So, because of the service we did she invited us to sit and speak with her and now she likes us coming over.  That is really cool because her daughter is scheduled to be baptized in a month. By the way her daughter is in her thirties but when you live with your parents you still have to do what they say. That's part of the culture here because most families live with parents and relatives in one house.

Another thing that touched my heart this week is when we help a member get food when they needed help to get food. They cried because of their gratitude to eat one meal in one day and it really touched my heart that someone would cry so sincerely for gratitude that they have food to eat. It is a hard thing to take in. Also that family shared many experiences of miracles this week where they know the Lord is watching over them in order to live. I know we say we are thankful for food and life in our prayers but now I know a deeper level of gratitude for those things with which I have been blessed. Gratitude is such a huge part of happiness. It really is one of the biggest keys to happiness.

The 3 keys to happiness I found in Mosiah chapter 2;  serving others, gratitude, and obedience. We also had tons of investigators show up to church.  That always scares me, haha I should have more trust in the ward and members and fellow shipping but I have no control over that so it always scares me when people go to church to what their experience is going to be like as far as how the ward loves them and stuff. That is such a huge part of missionary work is just having a nice accepting ward that's friendly and reaches out and doesn't always sit in the same spot or have their little groups of friends. Fear is the opposite of faith so I need to just trust more that the Lord is watching over them.
As far as my apartment it's great, we keep it super clean. My shoes are great. My health is great. Oh and I discovered this bear brand of powdered milk that's so awesome. I love to double the powder so its super creamy and I love to drink out of my Tangled cup.
Love, Elder Blackham

(Note from Elder Blackham's Mom:  Disney's Tangled is Elder Blackham's favorite movie so I sent him a Disney cup with the princess from Tangled on it in his package to commemorate his half way through the mission package)

Saturday, August 3, 2013

July 29, 2013

Man, goodness gracious I feel like singing  all the time!!  I love working my tail off and showing the Lord that I love Him. I love you mom and thanks so much for your love.  It has been raining a ton here and its been awesome, I love it when it floods it just makes life more exciting, haha. 

This week was a great learning week as far as the natural man. In the talk about being chaste by Elder Bednar it is one of the greatest talks about the plan of salvation and why we came to earth ever! I love it so much and I find many treasures of Knowledge as I read it again and again. I love the part where it explains if we never felt human passions, or hunger we could not learn self control. If we never got a head ache from waiting we could not learn patience. We really needed a body, I can't imagine all the knowledge we would have missed out on without a body. We really needed to come here and prepare and learn to control it all. 

All of the attributes of our spirit are amplified through a mortal body, relationships, ability to choose, and tons and tons more. It is just so cool. Every single day I am trying to memorize more scripture about overcoming the Natural man, for example right now I am memorizing Doctrine and Covenants 121:34-46. And every single night I ask myself "did I put off the natural man today and how can I do better tomorrow?" If the purpose of life is to gain a mortal body and to put off the natural man and obtain Godlike qualities in order to prepare ourselves to dwell with God again; then I feel it is definitely worth asking myself everyday that question and following up and using my agency to stay close to the Lord and put it off a little more at a time through the atonement every day.  If we do not learn and grow everyday then that is such a waste of a day that God has given us in order to learn and grow and prepare to live with Him again.

As far as the work its going pretty darn amazing, I feel absolute peace and joy when I ponder whether or not I am giving my all to the Lord. I am learning so much about how to get people to want to know or to find people who are ready and willing to accept the message. In the movie Alice and Wonderland, Alice comes to a fork in the road or something like that and she asks the cat which road she should take. The cat asks, "where do you want to go?" Alice responded with, "I don't know." Then the cat said, "Then it doesn't matter which path you take." That scene from the movie is definitely summarized and not at all word for word but that's the basic jist of it. So, as far as people we teach,  they won't care what we have to say until they have somewhere they want us to take them, or that they think we could help them get to. So I took the list from Preach My Gospel the Book of Mormon section called "questions of the soul" and wrote them down on a piece of paper and took it to people who were not progressing. I allowed them to read the list and pick the question that stood out to them most and was a question of their soul. Instantly they gain much more interest and willingness after finding their question and this has helped absolutely everyone I brought it to.

I am going to use it to find more investigators.  For example, I would walk up to someone and ask for a favor, the natural human response would be to ask what they could do to help (especially filipino) and then I would ask them to read the list and see if a question stood out to them as something they have often asked themselves. Then when they chose their question I would explain that we have the answer and would love to teach them. Thus we are fulfilling their own desire to know and not just our desire to teach. We will see how it goes, we haven't had to find much lately because our schedules are full but if we do this week I will let you know how it goes. It totally helps people open up and ask the questions that they have just been too shy or afraid to ask and help them start their journey to find truth. 

Love, Elder Blackham